Open Letter from the IDS

27th August 2018

An open letter from the Irish Deaf Society

We at the Irish Deaf Society would like to express our disappointment with the national broadcaster RTÉ for failing to include Irish Sign Language for the Deaf community in all the recent broadcasts of the Papal Visit to Ireland this past weekend.

The Irish Sign Language Act 2017 as parts of its Broadcasting section: “Broadcasting Principles that asks that Broadcasting adheres to principles of equality, dignity and respect in terms of the promotion and broadcasting of such programmes. The Deaf community had no ISL interpretation for any of the Pope’s coverage on RTÉ.

Contact was made with RTÉ by the Irish Deaf Society on Thursday, 16th August to enquire about their plans to include the Irish Sign Language Interpreters on screen that had been booked to interpret at various events during the Pope’s visit such as at Dublin Castle, St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral and at the Phoenix Park.

Whilst Interpreters were visible in the background at all these events, it was disappointing that they were not included on screen for Deaf viewers at home watching the proceedings. Had the Interpreter been situated on stage translating into Irish Sign Language, it would have given Deaf viewers at home full access to the proceedings.

Another alternative would have been a live simulcast broadcast on an alternative RTÉ channel with an ISL interpreter which is being done on tonight’s Pope Francis in Ireland – Highlights from 20.30pm on RTÉ News Now showing highlights from the weekend and whilst this is appreciated, it feels like a consolation prize after the fact and a token after requests for the ISL interpreter to be featured prominently.

It is also disappointing to note that before the Limerick v Galway Hurling Match on August 19th, RTÉ went to great trouble to inform the media that the National Anthem would be translated into Irish Sign Language, yet the ISL performer was only visible on screen for 1-2 seconds.

We support the huge numbers of people who have contacted RTÉ and asked that this weekend’s GAA final shows the ISL translation of our National Anthem in its entirety. A new campaign group has been set up and using the hashtag #StopHidingISL and the Irish Deaf Society is supporting the group who ask that the GAA final show the full ISL translation of our National Anthem.

Irish Sign Language is Ireland’s third recognised language in Ireland and we ask that you please #StopHidingISL and put into place a plan to include ISL interpreters at future historic events of national importance. We ask that you begin to do this by including the ISL National anthem on screen this Sunday.

On behalf of the Deaf Community in Ireland